1967 March 29

LBJ Bars Secret CIA Funding of Private Groups


The March 1967 issue of Ramparts Magazine (see February 15, 1967) exposed secret CIA funding of U.S. student organizations, primarily the National Student Association, and created a national scandal. The article was the first serious crack in the wall of secrecy surrounding the CIA. An embarrassed President Lyndon Johnson ordered a quick review, and, on this day, issued an order barring secret (but only secret) funding of domestic groups by government agencies, including the CIA.

The veil of secrecy over the CIA fell with the investigations by the Senate Church Committee (created on January 27, 1975) and the House Pike Committee (established on February 19, 1975). The Church Committee reports are still an invaluable resource on the history of illegal actions by the CIA.

Johnson was a complex and sometimes contradictory person, however, who had a very mixed record on secret CIA activities. In 1967, he directed the CIA to investigate whether foreign governments were supporting the anti-Vietnam War movement, an order that violated the CIA’s charter (see August 15, 1967). Similarly, Johnson publicly stated that he hated wiretapping, and took several steps to prohibit it (although not in national security cases), but he knew about the FBI wiretaps on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and ordered the FBI to spy on civil rights activists at the 1964 Democratic Party Convention.

Read LBJ’s Statement: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/print.php?pid=28169

Learn more: Hugh Wilford, The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America (2008)

Read the Church Committee report on CIA use of private groups in the U.S. (pp. 181–191)http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/church/reports/book1/contents.htm

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